Welcome, dear readers, to the final day of act 1 of the Hatsu basho. Its hard for me to believe that we have already reached the end of act 1. Here at Tachiai, we divide the basho into 3 five day segments, each that seem to have their own purpose and goals. For act 1 (aka Joban), its to remove ring rust, and see who is hot and who is not. On the hottie list, we have: Terunofuji, Mitakeumi, Onosho, Abi, and Myogiryu. Each of them started 4-0 thus far, and seem to be primed to just pave their way into act 2. On the “Not” list, we find the hapless group of: Wakatakakage, Okinoumi, Chiyonokuni, Akua, Chiyotairyu, and Tsurugisho. With not a single win between them. Man, I can smell it from Texas…
With Takakeisho kyujo, we will have daily visitors from Juryo until someone else calls it quits, so I think a few exchange matches are going to add a nice amount of spice to the daily grind.
What We Are Watching Day 5
Oho vs Kagayaki – The schedulers seem content to have Oho start each day’s matches for now, and that works for me. He has a classic form, and his sumo fundamentals are excellent. Wait, Kagayaki’s yo from Juryo for the day? Whoo hoo! It’s a showdown of the sumo basics by two guys who have never fought before! Sign me up!
Aoiyama vs Tsurugisho – The human stink-burger that is Tsurugisho is going to be bashed about by somewhat less damaged Aoiyama, and I am going to guess will rack his 5th loss in fairly short order. My heart goes out to Tsurugisho, who is getting on the dohyo every day and putting everything he can into each match, but he is clearly unwell.
Kotoeko vs Tochinoshin – To me, this one has a lot of interest. I can see no reason for Kotoeko to be getting results this basho, when he had a horrific 3-12 in Kyushu. But here we are, and he’s got former Ozeki Tochinoshin today. Tochinoshin must be in very bad physical condition, as he can’t even really seem to hold his position against an opponent who is pressing forward with any power. Kotoeko has only won a single match from Tochinoshin in 5 attempts, so maybe today is the day that Tochinoshin picks up his second win.
Kotonowaka vs Kaisei – On paper this one looks pretty lopsided. You have a long serving, high-skill veteran with an almost ridiculous body mass, up against a smaller, younger man. But on the clay they are an even 3-3, so this is a fair and even fight all the way down the line. I think Kaisei will try to capture Kotonowaka early, and keep his body square to whatever lines of force Kotonowaka may employ, and simply be huge.
Ichiyamamoto vs Yutakayama – Ichiyamamoto has shown surprising versatility thus far at Hatsu, and I am starting to think he is more than an Abi clone. While I am sure that Yutakayama will prefer an tsuki/oshi-zumo battle today, Ichiyamamoto would be well served to grab Yutakayama’s belt and make him work for it.
Chiyomaru vs Wakamotoharu – I think its been about 10 months since Chiyomaru was in the kind of fighting form we are seeing now. I really enjoy his sumo when he can move better than most men half his size. How the hell does he do it? No matter, its glorious to watch. Wakamotoharu comes in at 2-2, and I really hope he can hit kachi-koshi this tournament. He seems to be another fresh face with solid sumo skills, and I know we are not done rotating the old guard out of the top division.
Sadanoumi vs Terutsuyoshi – I am quite hyped for this match. It might seem to most that Terutsuyoshi would have the pole position for this fight, Sadanoumi has won 3 of their 4 prior engagements. Terutsuyoshi’s biggest potential will be to get underneath and try for one of his classic “inside” throws. It’s been several months since he uncorked one of those, and it’s always a tremendous treat.
Chiyotairyu vs Akua – The good news is that one of these pitiful specimens will get their shonichi (first win) today. Sadly, I think Akua his slightly less pathetic than a half power Chiyotairyu. I like the version of Chiyotairyu who goes zero to 70 kph in the first half meter, and can send an opponent half way across the zabuton section at the tachiai. But my guess is that he can’t summon that kami right now, and that he will be ballast for one of Akua’s throws.
Myogiryu vs Ishiura – Red hot Myogiryu has to fight someone, so lets make it journeyman Ishiura for day 5. Far from another mark for Myogiryu’s dominant march to 8 wins, Ishiura has shown quite a bit of development in the past year, and I think being out from Hakuho’s shadow is starting to help him quite a bit. Let’s face it, it would be impossible not to be awed by training with “The Boss” every day. But with the big man now in a blue jacket, he is finding his own path in the world of sumo.
Chiyonokuni vs Shimanoumi – What does Chiyonokuni need? An espresso? A nice bowl of curry udon? A huge frosty mug of fine ale? What will it take? The guy has the skills, he has the body, he has the fighting spirit. But thus far not a single blink’n win to his name. I scratch my head and consider that I can’t call Shimanoumi an easy mark for him, especially during Hatsu 2022, and I wonder what has gone wrong.
Hoshoryu vs Tobizaru – Ok, lets put that whole Chiyonokuni thing aside, because check this one out. Ok, yeah – can we just talk to the shimpan now and convince them these two need at least a dozen torinaoshi for today? Sure it will blow the TV schedule straight to hell, but think of the ratings! Two high mobility guys who are happy to pound the stuffing out of each other. Both with 2-2 records, a 5-5 career history, and enough genki energy to power the Yamanote line during rush hour. Bring It On!
Onosho vs Takarafuji – Much as I really liked Takarafuji’s “aggressive” mode on day 4, when Onosho is on a hot streak, you know you are going to get a big meaty palm in a tough location. We all know that won’t be Takarafuji’s neck, but center mass will do quite nicely.
Abi vs Hokutofuji – What the hell guys? The schedulers are clearly trying to give us a big show for day 5, and I am happy they are. Yeah yeah, Abi is unbeaten at 4-0, and Hokutofuji seems to be yet again working on “The Most Powerful Make-Koshi In All Of Sumo”, but I am going to guess that if anyone can put dirt on Abi, it’s ol’ Stompy. With any luck we will see Hokutofuji’s tremendous lower body at work in this match, which would rob Abi of his primary advantage.
Chiyoshoma vs Endo – Chiyoshoma used his “flying henka” chit for Hatsu already, and it got him pretty much nothing. So I think we are going to see a straight ahead fight against Endo, and that’s always a good thing. Endo, for his part, seems to be a bit off of his sumo right now, which robs his legion of fans from enjoying his high skill, high agility techniques.
Okinoumi vs Daieisho – 21 career matches between these two, and it would usually be a high interest fight. But to me it’s pretty clear that Okinoumi’s chronic lower pelvic injury is again degrading his sumo. So I think we will get whatever resistance he can muster to Daieisho’s super-thrusting attack, followed by a step out and a 5th loss today.
Meisei vs Ura – Yes, Ura has just one win right now. But Meisei really needs to mind his sumo today. I am sure Ura still has a big bucket of grab-and-tug ready for anyone who does not keep their arms and legs inside the ride at all times.
Wakatakakage vs Takanosho – Its time for Wakatakakage to win one. I am not sure he can pull one off against Takanosho, who seems to be fighting well enough right now, but he’s got the skill and power to win. Takanosho lost to Endo on day 4 when he was unable to consolidate his stance in the face of Endo’s sheering pressure from his upper body. Hopefully Wakatakakage watched multiple angles of Takanosho’s day 4 match.
Mitakeumi vs Kiribayama – Kiribayama has a 4-3 career advantage over Mitakeumi, which is quite impressive given that the near-Ozeki, original Tadpole is one tough opponent. With an unbeaten 4-0 run coming into today, Mitakeumi has the momentum against 1-3 Kiribayama. But as the rikishi like to say, take it one match at a time.
Tamawashi vs Shodai – Both have matching 3-1 records, and I really want Shodai to show us some good, Ozeki sumo today. I am not sure if its physical, mental or what that is keeping him from really employing his best, but I want him out there on the dohyo fighting like one of the top men in the sport. Every single day. That being said, it would serve him right to drop one to super-veteran Tamawashi today if he fights one notch below his Ozeki best.
Terunofuji vs Ichinojo – Oh dear, what now. You wold think that Ichinojo could have a real challenge for Terunofuji, given his immense size. But with a 2-11 career record, it seems he just can’t muster the fighting spirit to overcome the Yokozuna. We will likely once again see Terunofuji start a bit rough, consolidate his position, and then overwhelm his opponent with a sudden burst of almost inhuman power. Good luck to Ichinojo.